Close

    Master of Divinity in Spiritual Formation

    Northwest Nazarene University's graduate programs in Spiritual Formation explore the history, philosophy, theology and practices of spirituality in the Christian tradition. You'll grow through personal and professional incorporation of your learning, rigorous interactions with your professors and learning community members, and a mentoring relationship that spans either degree programs. Earn an M.Div. within 50 months or an M.A. in less than two years without any residential requirements.

    Students in NNU's MDIVSF program complete an online orientation, 39 credits in their pastoral ministry core, and a 36-hour specialization in Spiritual Formation. After completing your online orientation, begin with either your core or specialization -- the choice is yours!

    MDIVSF students can complete their degree program one course at a time in as little as 50 months, with most summers free. Our MDIVSF program has been validated as meeting the educational requirements for ordination as elders in the Church of the Nazarene*.

    Financial aid is available for those who qualify, or students may take advantage of a zero interest monthly payment plan. Avoid expensive travel costs associated with modular programs at other seminaries, not to mention costly time away from home and your workplace. Tuition discounts are also available to members of the Church of the Nazarene.

    To maximize contextualization, all of our students participate in a mentor relationship with someone in their own ministry setting. Ministry mentors receive a small stipend for the support offered.

    Be part of an online community of learners with global reach, experience personalized mentorship from course to course, and earn your degree from a university with both regional accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities and full membership in The Association of Theological Schools.

    Request More Information

    *While this NNU program has been validated by Nazarene Clergy Services as meeting the educational requirements for ordination, denominational polity gives final authority on such matters to the district, not to general authorities.

    Course Descriptions

    Specialization Courses

    BIBL7290 — Grounded in the Living Word: Scripture and the Christian Life (4 Credits)
    This course explores the dynamics and power of Scripture in spiritual formation, personal transformation, and the Christian life. A key aspect of this course is an understanding and development of biblical hermeneutical principles and practices that focus not only on the biblical text's content but also on its potential effects as part of the church's Scripture. In addition to learning about life with God from Scripture, successful students can gain competence in listening to the spirit of the text, move from informational reading to transformational reading, and learn to engage Scripture in ways that grasp and change one's being and doing.

    BIBL8090 — Advanced Biblical Exegesis (3 Credits)
    An in-depth exegetical study of an Old Testament and/or New Testament book(s). The course will emphasize the historical occasion, purpose and theological message of the selected biblical books. It will survey relevant contemporary biblical hermeneutics. It will utilize inductive, grammatical, historical-critical, literary, and reader-oriented exegetical methods. The course will self-consciously focus on interpretation within and for the believing community.

    CHIS6290 — Founded on Embodied Tradition: Church History and the Christian Life (4 Credits)
    This course is designed to provide a historical underpinning for the practice of ministry in the Wesleyan tradition. Emphasis is placed on Wesley's theological sources (Early Church, Medieval, Reformation, Anglican), his theological methodology, his theology of spiritual formation, and his ability to engage his cultural context. Particular attention is given to how students can pursue personal and social holiness, and develop effective and dynamic missional approaches to leadership.

    PHIL7290 — Reflecting on Character: Philosophy and the Christian Life (4 Credits)
    This course explores Christian ethics from a philosophical perspective. Students engage in biblical, theological and philosophical reflection, study dominant approaches to ethical thinking, and examine contemporary moral problems. Particular emphasis is placed on developing critical reflection skills, rather than finding answers to various ethical questions. This course also facilitates a deeper understanding of character formation and sharpens one's discernment as to how theological and philosophical reflection helps shape Christian practice.

    PRTH6180 — Introduction to Spiritual Formation (4 Credits)
    This course gives an intensive examination of the discipline of spiritual formation. Particular emphasis will be placed on the examination and practice of the fourteen Disciplines of Spiritual Formation with the purpose of helping students in their personal spiritual formation.

    PRTH6880 — Nurturing the Inner Life (4 Credits)
    This course explores the lifelong processes and goals of Christian spiritual formation from biblical, theological, psychological, and historical perspectives. Students practice historic Christian disciplines as means of grace to promote intimacy with God, healthier physical and emotional habits, maturing character, and love for others.

    PRTH6990A — Supervised Ministry (2 Credits)
    Under the direction of a ministry mentor, students will be involved in practical ministry experience in a local ministry context. Special attention will be given to preaching, counseling, teaching, education, evangelism, and administration. The experience will be under the direction of the instructor in cooperation with the supervising ministry mentor. A grade will not be issued for this course until completion of PRTH6990B.

    PRTH6990B — Supervised Ministry (2 Credits)
    This course is a continuation of PRTH6990A and must be completed before a grade will be issued for PRTH6990A. Prerequisites: PRTH6990A

    PRTH7580 — Spirituality of Soul Care (4 Credits)
    This is a course designed to give a small group, intensive experience in which the relationship between spiritual formation and ordained ministry is considered. The course includes examination of the minister as person, professional, and practitioner. The small group will be located in the locale of the student. It will be made up of ministers and laypersons who will provide the optimum group experience.

    PRTH7980 — Spiritual Direction (4 Credits)
    This course explores the meaning, place, models, and dynamics of the ministry of spiritual direction. Participants will consider the place of spiritual direction within their own ministries and, with their mentor, explore facets of giving and receiving spiritual direction. A reflective journal will be required.

    THEO6290 — Engaging with Prophetic Voices: Theology and the Christian Life (4 Credits)
    Students reflect theologically on life and ministry by exploring various sources of theological reflection. In particular, dominant themes and figures in contemporary theology are explored, especially voices and perspectives that are often overlooked. In this exploration, students compare and contrast distinctive characteristics of Wesleyan theology, including various understandings of holiness, with issues found in contemporary theology. This course explores issues of holiness and justice and how the Church can better live into the Kingdom of God for all and not just those in power.

    Pastoral Ministry Core Courses

    BIBL6760 — Old Testament Interpretation (3 Credits)
    This course introduces key strategies and exegetical tools particular to interpreting the Old Testament. Students will develop exegetical skills and the ability to recognize Scripture's theological texture through study of selected texts from the different genres of the Old Testament.

    BIBL7760 — New Testament Interpretation (3 Credits)
    This course introduces key strategies and exegetical tools particular to interpreting the New Testament. Students will develop exegetical skills and the ability to recognize Scripture's theological texture through study of selected texts from the different genres of the New Testament.

    CHED6160 — Congregational Education & Formation (3 Credits)
    The course provides a Wesleyan approach to Christian discipleship by integrating Wesleyan theology and current developmental theories. The course explores how pastors can develop educational ministries that foster faith formation and Christian discipleship in local congregations. Particular attention is given to the role congregations play in forming faith disciples through teaching, worship, and congregational life.

    CHIS6560 — History of Christianity I (3 Credits)
    A study of the historical development of Christianity from 150-1500 C.E., from the Patristic period through pre-Reformation. The course will trace theological and doctrinal development as well as offer a general survey of the history of the Church in its ecclesiastical and cultural contexts. The student will have opportunity to read primary as well as secondary sources, and do research on a specified and focused area of interest.

    CHIS6960 — History of Christianity II (3 Credits)
    A study of the historical development of Christianity from 1500-present, C.E., from the Reformation through the 20th century. The course will trace theological and doctrinal development as well as offer a general survey of the history of the Church in its ecclesiastical and cultural contexts. The student will have opportunity to read primary as well as secondary sources, and do research on a specified and focused area of interest.

    PHIL7560 — Philosophical Foundations of Ministry (3 Credits)
    This course will provide the fundamentals for logical reasoning, review the philosophical foundations of theology, explore contemporary issues in the philosophy of religion, and develop methods for making ethical decisions within the framework of Christian values.

    PRTH6000 — OnRamp Program Orientation (0 Credits)
    This course orients the student to the resources, procedures, electronic operations, and expectations of the program, and also includes the completion of the California Psychological Inventory (CPI), which students will discuss in PRTH6000LA or PRTH6000LB, as well as a required criminal background check. Grade of Pass/Fail. Fees: Additional fee required.

    PRTH6000LA — Personal Development Lab (0 Credits)
    Students in this semester lab meet in person or online with a graduate counseling student for the interpretation of their California Psychological Inventory (CPI) results and a formative assessment of their personal development with respect to theological studies and vocational ministry. Students who enroll in PRTH6000 in the Fall semester must complete PRTH6000LA as a lab during the following Spring semester. Grade of Pass/Fail. Prerequisites: PRTH6000

    PRTH6000LB — Personal Development Lab (0 Credits)
    Students in this 8 week lab meet in person or online with a graduate counseling student for the interpretation of their California Psychological Inventory (CPI) results and a formative assessment of their personal development with respect to theological studies and vocational ministry. Students who enroll in PRTH6000 in the Spring semester must complete PRTH6000LB as a lab during the following 8 week session. Grade of Pass/Fail. Corequisites: PRTH6000

    PRTH6760 — Spiritual & Personal Formation (3 Credits)
    This course examines spiritual formational practices with particular emphasis on the personal and spiritual formation of the minister. Students will gain personal spiritual formational practices for the purpose of developing them holistically.

    PRTH6960 — Missiology & Contextualization (3 Credits)
    This course provides a study of the challenge and complexity of mission within the cultural diversity of today's world. Students will review the historical dimensions of missiology, develop biblical and theological foundations for missional ecclesiology, and strategize for cross-cultural communication of the gospel.

    PRTH6990A — Supervised Ministry (2 Credits)
    Under the direction of a ministry mentor, students will be involved in practical ministry experience in a local ministry context. Special attention will be given to preaching, counseling, teaching, education, evangelism, and administration. The experience will be under the direction of the instructor in cooperation with the supervising ministry mentor. A grade will not be issued for this course until completion of PRTH6990B.

    PRTH6990B — Supervised Ministry (2 Credits)
    This course is a continuation of PRTH6990A and must be completed before a grade will be issued for PRTH6990A. Prerequisites: PRTH6990A

    PRTH7560 — Pastoral Leadership (3 Credits)
    This course will help to equip ministers to lead and manage churches and mission agencies. Special attention will be given to the student's ability to conceive and articulate purpose, mission, and vision for ministry and assist the student to develop the strategic means to realize that vision.

    PRTH7960 — Preaching & Worship (3 Credits)
    An advanced study of the methods of homiletics as well as applying principles of biblical interpretation to worship and preaching. A major focus of the course will be on practical application to selected biblical passages through the writing and preaching of expository sermons as well as a study of the Christian practices of the Church including baptism, funerals, weddings, and the Eucharist.

    THEO7560 — THEO7560 Christian Theology I: Central Issues (3 Credits)
    Students will explore the theological issues pertaining to the classical doctrines of the Wesleyan tradition. This exploration will focus upon the main characteristics of the nature of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the human person, sin, salvation, the Christian life, the Church and sacraments, and eschatology.

    THEO7960 — Christian Theology II: Holiness and Contemporary Theology (3 Credits)
    Students will reflect theologically on life and ministry by exploring various sources of theological reflection. In particular, dominant themes and figures in contemporary theology will be explored. In this exploration, students will compare and contrast distinctive characteristics of Wesleyan theology, including various understandings of holiness, with issues found in contemporary theology.

    Program Outcomes

    • The graduate understands and is able to explain Wesleyan-Holiness Theology as it relates to Scripture, Christian tradition, reason, and experience in the practice of ministry.
    • The graduate identifies characteristics of the cultural context of ministry and assesses them through an appropriate theological perspective, compares existing cultures with alternative cultural expressions, and develops personal and corporate practices consistent with the Kingdom of God.
    • The graduate practices the means of grace (spiritual disciplines) that lead to emotional and spiritual health, personal Christian theological virtue, and responsible social engagement.
    • The graduate integrates Christian theological themes in the understanding and practice of ministry and leadership.
    • The graduate integrates the various ways spiritual formation may be part of the ministries of a local church in teaching, worship, preaching, and mission.
    • The graduate understands and develops spiritual formation practices, under the supervision of a mentor, that foster personal and spiritual growth.
    • The graduate practices the role of being a spiritual director, by utilizing spiritual formation practices, to a local group in their ministry context.
    • The graduate assesses spiritual journeys, individual and communities, for the purpose of creating a spiritual formation plan that will stimulate growth in acts of piety and mercy, i.e. inward and outward holiness.